John Gills Exposition of the Bible Commentary

Verse 41 (Acts 2:41)

Then they that gladly received his word ,.... The Syriac version adds, "and believed"; what Peter said concerning repentance and baptism, and especially concerning remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost; and concerning the promise of Christ, and salvation by him, of the pardon of sin, and of the Holy Spirit; which doctrine they received with great joy and gladness, it being suitable to their case; and very "readily", and "willingly", as the Syriac and Arabic versions render it; for they were now made a willing people in the day of God's power, and now that promise, or prophecy, in Psalm 110:3 had a remarkable accomplishment; these converts were the dew of Christ's youth, as well as instances of his powerful and efficacious grace: not all that heard this sermon of Peter's received his doctrine in this manner, only some; and so the Syriac and Arabic versions render the words, "and some of them readily received", &c.; which shows the distinguishing grace of God in this instance. The Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions leave out the word "gladly", which should not be omitted: and as soon as they had received the word, and were comforted by it, they

were baptized ; in water, by immersion, for which there was great conveniency in Jerusalem, and in the temple, where the apostles now were: in the city of Jerusalem, in private houses, they had their baths for purifications, by immersion, as in the case of menstruous, gonorrhoeas, and other defilements, by touching unclean persons, and things, which were very frequent; so that a digger of cisterns, for such uses, and others, was a business in Jerusalem,

"Says Simeon Sicana F7 Midrash Kohelet, fol. 70. 3. , who was a digger of cisterns, ditches, and caves, in Jerusalem, to R. Jochanan ben Zaccai, I am as great a man as thou art; he made answer to him, why? (or your reason for it;) he replied to him, because I am employed in the necessary affairs of many, (or of the public,) as you are; for says he, if a man comes to you for judgment, or to ask a question, you say to him, drink out of this cistern, whose waters are pure, and cold; or, if a woman asks thee concerning her monstrous, you say to her, טבלי , dip in this cistern, whose waters purify.

And in the temple there was an apartment, called בית טבילה , "the dipping place", or "room", where the high priest dipped himself on the day of atonement F8 T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 16. 1. & 19. & Maimon. Beth. Habbechira, c. 5. sect. 11. 17. : and besides, there were ten lavers of brass, made by Solomon; and every laver held forty baths of water, and each was four cubits broad and long, sufficient for immersion of the whole body of a man; and to these Herbanus F9 Disput. Gregantii, p. 131. the Jew seems to have respect, when he says, that in the outer part of Solomon's temple, there were λουτηρης , "lavers", in every side, (or all around,) which were free, or open, for the use of all; to which, he thinks, the prophet Isaiah has respect, in Isaiah 1:16 . Those were for the priests, both to wash their hands and feet at, and also to wash the burnt offerings; see Exodus 30:18 F11 Vid. Jarchi & Kimchi in 1 Kings vii. 38. & Ralbag in 2 Chron. iv. 5. : and who were likewise obliged, very often, to bathe, or dip their whole bodies in water; for if a priest went out of the temple for a little while to speak with a friend, טעון טבילה , "he was obliged to dipping": and if he nodded, he was obliged to wash his hands and his feet; but if he slept, he was obliged to dip himself; yea, a man might not go into the court, or to service, even though he was clean, עד שהוא טובל , "until he dip himself" F12 T. Hieros. Yoma, fol. 40. 2. Misna Yoma, c. 3. sect. 3. . Add to this, that there was the molten sea also for the priests to wash in, 2 Chronicles 4:6 which was done by immersion; on which one of the Jewish commentators F13 R. David Kimchi. has these words:

"the sea was לטבילת , "for the dipping" of the priests; for in the midst of it, they dipped themselves from their uncleanness; but in the Jerusalem Talmud F14 lb. Yoma, fol. 41. 1. there is an objection, is it not a vessel? as if it was said, how can they "dip" in it, for is it not a vessel? and there is no "dipping" in vessels: R. Joshua ben Levi replied, a pipe of water was laid to it from the fountain of Etam, and the feet of the oxen, (which were under the molten sea,) were open at the pomegranates; so that it was as if it was from under the earth, and the waters came to it, and entered, and ascended, by the way of the feet of the oxen, which were open beneath them, and bored.

The reason of the objection is, because bathing, or dipping for purification, was not made in vessels, but in gatherings, or pools of water upon the ground; and which objection is removed, by observing, that a pipe was laid from the fountain of Etam, which supplied it with spring, or running water; so that the molten sea, and the lavers, were looked upon all one as pools of water, or springs of water, and as fit for immersion. This sea was ten cubits from brim to brim, and five cubits high, and held two thousand baths, 1 Kings 7:23 . Yea, three thousand, as in 2 Chronicles 6:5 and every laver held forty baths, 1 Kings 7:38 and every bath held four gallons and a half, and between seven and eight gallons of wine measure. And it may be observed, that there were also in Jerusalem the pool of Bethesda, into which persons went down at certain times, John 5:1 and the pool of Siloam, where persons bathed, and dipped themselves, on certain occasions; See Gill on John 9:7 . So that there were conveniences enough for baptism by immersion in this place: and the same day there were added; unto them, or to the church, as in Acts 2:47 the whole company of the hundred and twenty disciples; the Arabic version supplies, "among the believers": the number of those, that were added to them, were about three thousand souls; or persons, men, and women; and their number is no objection to their being baptized by immersion. As for convenient places to baptize in, there were enough, as we have seen already; and there were administrators sufficient for this work: had there been no more than the twelve apostles, it was but two hundred and fifty men apiece; and there were twelve separate places in the temple, where they might be baptizing at the same time; there were the ten lavers, the molten sea, and the dipping room, so that the work was not so very heavy nor difficult; but besides, there were seventy disciples, who, as they were preachers of the word, were administrators of this ordinance; and supposing them all employed, as they might be, at the same time, either in the temple, or at the pools in Jerusalem, or at the baths, and cisterns, in private houses; they would not have more than six or seven and thirty persons apiece to baptize; and there was time enough in the day for it; it was but the third hour, or nine o'clock in the morning, when Peter began his sermon; and allowing an hour for that, there were eight hours more in the day, according to the Jewish reckoning of twelve hours in a day; so that the business might be done without any hurry, or great fatigue; and indeed, the objection, as to time, would equally lie against sprinkling, or pouring, as dipping; at least the difference is very inconsiderable; for the same form of words must be pronounced in administering the ordinance by the one, as by the other; and a person being ready, is very near as soon dipped into water, as water can be taken, and sprinkled, or poured on the face. Besides, after all, though these persons were added to the church the same day, it does not necessarily follow from the text, that they were all baptized in one day; the words do not oblige us to such a sense: I own, I am of opinion, that they were all baptized in one day; and that on the same day they were baptized, they were joined to the church; and that day was the day of Pentecost, the day on which the law was given on Mount Sinai, and on which now the Gospel was published to men of all nations under the heavens; the day on which the firstfruits were offered to the Lord, and on which now the firstfruits of the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ were brought in to him. Let the order be observed, they were first baptized, and then added to the church,

- John Gills Exposition of the Bible Commentary